Scintilla Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Scintilla, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Scintilla?

(n) Scintilla is an evidence appearing in an unexpected way or an unanticipated piece of evidence leading to reach a conclusion. The Latin word means ‘spark’ to represent the spark which creates ignition and combustion to start the machinery.

History and Meaning of Scintilla

Scintilla is a Latin term that means 'spark.' It is used in legal contexts to describe a small piece of evidence that appears unexpectedly and can lead to a new conclusion in a case. The concept of scintilla evidence dates back to the late 1800s and has been used in various legal cases.

Examples of Scintilla

  • In a personal injury case, a witness unexpectedly comes forward and testifies that they saw the defendant texting while driving, providing a scintilla of evidence that could prove negligence.
  • In a contract dispute, a small email exchange between the parties is discovered that provides a scintilla of evidence about the interpretation of a particular provision.
  • In a criminal trial, a DNA sample that was previously thought to be unusable is retested using a new method, providing a scintilla of evidence that exonerates the accused.

Legal Terms Similar to Scintilla

  • Preponderance of evidence: this refers to the standard of proof required in civil cases, where the evidence presented must be more convincing than the evidence presented by the other side.
  • Beyond a reasonable doubt: this is the standard of proof required in criminal cases, where the evidence must be so convincing that there is no reasonable doubt in the guilt of the accused.
  • Material evidence: this refers to evidence that is relevant and important to the case at hand.